Shane van Gisbergen is looking to make the full-time move to the NASCAR Cup Series in 2024. Could he do it with his current team?
Three-time Australian V8 Supercars champion Shane van Gisbergen recently made his NASCAR Cup Series debut in the inaugural street race in Chicago, Illinois, driving the No. 91 Chevrolet for Trackhouse Racing Team. He became the first driver to win on debut since Johnny Rutherford in 1963.
The 34-year-old New Zealander’s victory immediately heated up speculation that he could look to make a full-time move to the Cup Series. While the initial belief was that he would not be able to do so until 2025, he has since been cleared to pursue a NASCAR opportunity in 2024.
Van Gisbergen made his Cup Series debut through Trackhouse Racing Team’s PROJECT91 initiative, which the Justin Marks and Pitbull-owned team introduced last year as a way to give internationally renowned race car drivers the opportunity to compete at NASCAR’s highest level.
Former Formula 1 world champion Kimi Raikkonen competed in the race at Watkins Glen International last August, and he returned at Circuit of the Americas this past March. Van Gisbergen’s start marked only the third appearance of PROJECT91’s No. 91 Chevrolet.
Amid reports that van Gisbergen has already received multiple offers for the 2024 season, it was announced that he is set to return to the No. 91 Chevrolet for the race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course two weekends from now.
Despite his upcoming return to Trackhouse Racing Team, it was thought that Shane van Gisbergen would have to move elsewhere to find a full-time ride for the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series.
Before the 2023 season, both Ross Chastain and Daniel Suarez signed contract extensions to keep them in their respective Trackhouse Racing Team Chevrolets through at least the 2024 season.
Amid Chastain’s new deal with Busch Light, plus the fact that he has emerged as a championship contender since joining Trackhouse Racing Team last year, it’s safe to say he isn’t going anywhere. But is Suarez’s deal watertight, or could he be released after 2023 if he fails to qualify for the playoffs?
If not, a van Gisbergen move to Trackhouse Racing Team would have to be in a third full-time entry, which wasn’t initially believed to be an option. Would this effectively eliminate PROJECT91 moving forward? Would this third entry have a charter, and if so, where would it come from?
Those are all questions that may need to be answered, given recent comments from Marks himself. According to The Athletic, Marks stated that it would “only make sense” for van Gisbergen to run full-time for the team with which he made his debut.
All things considered, it sounds as though Trackhouse Racing Team have given van Gisbergen a full-time offer, or at least discussed the possibility.
Should he accept, how, exactly, will the team pull it off?
The other team to which van Gisbergen has been heavily linked in recent weeks is Kaulig Racing, given the fact that Justin Haley’s unexpected departure to Rick Ware Racing for the 2024 season has left the No. 31 Chevrolet without a confirmed driver.